This evening’s final showjumping class, the Turkish Airlines Grand Prix at Olympia, the London International Horse Show just couldn’t have been any more exciting or fitting.
With twelve clears coming through from the first round, three of whom were British, it was obvious the 1.60m and €115,000 prize fund class was always going to be a strong one. However, it proved to be far more than that as it was an absolute show-stopper where the final winning line-up wasn’t decided until the closing minutes.
For Great Britain, the first clear came from Guy Williams with Rouge de Ravel, a 12 year-old bay stallion. This set the scene for two of his other team mates to follow with Ben Maher and Poden Farm’s 8 year-old, Winning Good, being the second of the Brits to secure their place in the second round.
It was Michael Whitaker who posted the third with the British Bred JB’s Hot Stuff, an 11 year-old bay mare owned by Jayne Bean. With nine other combinations across the almost thirty strong field following suit it was Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Sweden, USA and Switzerland who all ended up having a presence in jump off resulting in the atmosphere really heating up across the packed grandstands.
For Guy Williams, the first of the Brits to go in the jump-off it seemed an unsettled Rouge de Ravel came forward which saw Guy take the sensible decision to retire him. It was then a wait until Michael Whitaker entered the arena posting an incredibly fast paced clear to set the standard with JB’s Hot Stuff in a time of 34.30 seconds to take an early lead.
Having put the pressure on, Michael definitely forced others into making mistakes with them trying to catch his time. The next clear came in the form of Edwina Tops-Alexander (USA) with Inca Boy van’t Vianahof who opted to take a slower pace with a focus on jumping all the obstacles clearly which she did in a time of 40.24 seconds.
It wasn’t until Maikel van der Vleuten (NED), who was drawn mid field, took up the gauntlet posting a clear in a time of 36.11 seconds that the final line up really started shaping up. Definitely setting off meaning business, his clear in 36.11 seconds just wasn’t enough to topple Michael from his early lead but was definitely enough to keep the adrenalin flowing around the arena with the knowledge that others were going to give it a try.
Harrie Smolders (NED) was the rider to achieve it when, despite a stumble on landing halfway round the course, he broke the finish line 6/100th of a second faster to push Michael down into 2nd place.
With everyone convinced this time just couldn’t be beaten, the crowds almost lifted the roof when Alberto Zorzi (ITA) the third to last rider moved everything up a pace risking all he had to return home on zero penalties in a blistering time of 34.05 seconds to claim the title and the almost €29,000 being awarded to the winner.
For Full results: http://bit.ly/2CXwGmz
Article Source: British Showjumping News
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